Pizzas with tradition - and a few twists
THE pizza culture in Singapore is gradually changing with more places serving traditional, Italian-style pizzas made from fresh dough and cooked in a wood-fired oven.
3A River Valley Road, Clarke Quay #01-01A
Open 4pm to 11pm daily
Pizza chef Mathieu Palombino is actually a French chef by training. His dream was to open a French fine-dining steakhouse in New York City. But that was in 2008 - when the United States was undergoing a major recession and everyone was tightening their belts.
"I knew (a steakhouse) was never going to work out," says the Belgium-born 37-year-old. "I found myself wondering what should I do, and I was eating a lot of pizza at the time. Then I realised pizza was a great option."
So after a few trips to Naples in Italy, plus three months of studying bread-making and testing dough recipes, Chef Palombino came up with what he thought to be the best possible pizza dough.
The next step was to open his first outlet of Motorino - a casual pizza joint serving Neapolitan pizza (a type of pizza that originated in Naples) in Brooklyn, New York.
Now, Chef Palombino has two Motorino outlets in New York, two in Hong Kong, and one in Manila and he officially launched his first outlet here in Singapore, in Clarke Quay, last Wednesday.
This outlet is a licensing partnership with local couple Francis Tay and Carol Lee; both new entrants to the food and beverage industry.
They decided to bring in Motorino after stumbling across one of its outlets in Hong Kong.
At Motorino, the pizzas range from a simple marinara pizza with tomato sauce and oregano, their speciality brussel sprouts and bacon pizza, to a prosciutto and rocket pizza with mozzarella cheese. Prices range from $17 to $30 per pizza.
Their pizza crust is crunchy, thanks to their three-tonne wood-fired oven that was made in Naples.
Explains Chef Palombino: "The oven affects the way the pizza cooks because it's a wood fire so it's very dry. It's the right way to make a Neapolitan pizza, but it's not the most important step of course - the most important is the dough."
DARIO PIZZA & MORE
6 Clementi Road
Open Tues to Sun, 11.30am-2pm and 6pm-10pm, closed on Mon
Ever wanted to leave the country after a bad break-up? Dario Bonaccorso did just that. Combined with Italy's weak economy, the 32-year-old decided to pack up and move to Singapore in 2010 at the behest of a former boss who was looking for a pizza chef.
After three years cooking at Al Forno in East Coast, Chef Bonaccorso decided to go it alone, opening Dario Pizza & More - a 30-seater just off Clementi Road.
Opened on Feb 26, the pizzeria was a natural transition for him. He says: "I am specialised in pizza. I was a pizza chef in Italy for five years, and I love it."
His bestseller is the Diavola ($19), which contains tomatoes, mozzarella and salami. The Bomba is more expensive at $28, given the added toppings of ham, mushrooms, artichoke and bacon.
In spite of his Sicilian heritage, Chef Bonaccorso's pizzas are served thin and crispy, instead of the thick crust-style the region is famous for. While the Bomba packs a lot of flavour, the Diavola (Italian for the Devil) does not deliver much heat and tastes more like a Margherita with meat.
The young chef honed his pizza-making skills in a town near Maranello, home to the famous Ferrari museum. He takes pride in his authentic pizzas, but shies away from using a wood-fired oven. He says: "I imported an electric oven from Italy, which is different from a wood-fired one because the pizza comes out much crisper, and the oven itself is easier to clean."
69/70 Bussorah Street
Open Tues to Thurs, Sun, 11.30am-11pm; Fri and Sat, 11.30am-midnight
You've heard of pumpkin cream soup, or pumpkin cream pasta sauce. But pumpkin cream as a pizza topping? It sounds unusual, but the sweet pumpkin cream, together with fresh mozzarella, broccolini and sun-dried tomato, makes for a tasty pizza that has become the signature dish for Pizza Fabbrica, a four-month old pizzeria in the Kampong Glam area.
Italian eateries are common in Singapore, so owner Sumeet Singla wanted his to be different.
Head chef Matteo Boifava hails from Cremona, Lombary in northern Italy and has over 18 years' experience, mostly in fine-dining establishments - including a stint at The Fat Duck.
On the Pizza Fabbrica menu are the usual classics such as the Margherita, Funghi and Diavola.
But there are also the more unusual items; or the gourmet ones, as Mr Singla calls them. They include the Pancetta Funghi Caprino e Scalogno, topped with fresh mozzarella, pancetta, portobello mushrooms, scallions and goat cheese, and the Funghi Scamorza e Tartufo, which comes with fresh mozzarella, porcini mushrooms, Scamorza cheese and truffle.
The pizzas are the work of the 39-year-old chef who moved here five months ago. "About 90 per cent of the ingredients, such as the Taggiasca olives, are imported from Italy. The quality of the ingredients makes a key difference to how good a pizza will be," says the chef.
Everything is done in-house in the restaurant, and to ensure freshness, the dough and sauces are all made in small batches.
The pizzas, which make up about half of all Pizza Fabbrica's food sales, all feature Chef Boifava's own style of pizza base, made with dough that has been proofed for 48 hours, using the best quality of Caputo flour from Italy and topped with Fior di Latte or fresh mozzarella. The pizzas range from $18 to $30.
The result is a pizza base that is crispy, slightly chewy and yet light. Chef Boifava believes that sufficient proofing time is crucial.
"I use only 1 per cent fresh yeast in the dough, and allow for a longer proofing time," he says.
Doing this means precious kitchen space is needed to store the dough. "But the result is worth it," says Chef Boifava.
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